Fall into the local autumn spirit

Autumn Spirit

The changing leaves and crisp air have those on campus reaching for comfy sweaters, stopping in at the nearest Starbucks to grab a Pumpkin Spice Latte and cozying up near the fire while watching Sunday Night Football games. That’s right, fall is upon us.

While partaking in these activities is a natural reaction for many when the cool fall weather hits, there are plenty of other ways to fully indulge in the fall spirit. Whether you are looking for something artsy, active or relaxing, here are five fall-themed, and fully Instagrammable, things to do to celebrate the fall season.


Find the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown

The quintessential fall outing involves picking your own pumpkin, preferably at a local farm. Stopping by Target or Pick’n Save may be the easy option when it comes to snagging a pumpkin to spice up your apartment, but local farms such as Schuster’s and Treinen offer acres upon acres of pumpkins to choose from. If making your way off campus to a local farm is not in the cards, consider stopping by the Dane County Farmer’s Market on a Saturday morning as pumpkins and gourds are beginning to pop up at various vendors. Be sure to customize your pumpkin by either painting or carving it at home!

Get Lost in a Corn Maze

Have you ever wanted to get lost in the eyes of a true stud, Bucky Badger? Well, now you can. This year, local family farm Enchanted Valley Acres shaped their corn maze in the image of the beloved Bucky Badger. If you’re not confident in your abilities to make it out of the big corn maze, they also offer a smaller, one-acre maze, for those who may not be the best at directions. General admission to Enchanted Valley Acres is $10, which includes access to hayrides, their giant slide and of course, their Bucky corn maze.

Pick the Perfect Apple

Fall means that local apple orchards are bursting with seasonal apples just waiting to be picked. Whether you are looking for a single apple or a brimming bag full, local farms and apple orchards are the best place to shop during the fall. A few apple orchards near campus include Jones Orchard, Eplegaarden and Bickler’s Apple Farm. Local farms offer a variety of apples, but if you are looking for a specific type, be sure to check their produce varieties before visiting. To save you the time, Jones Orchard and Green’s Pleasant Springs Orchard currently offer Honeycrisp apples. You’re welcome.

Did Someone Say “Pie”?

Now that you have had the chance to pick your pumpkins and gather your apples, there is no excuse not to call up your mom to get her favorite pie recipes. Fall baking is the best as apple and pumpkin pies are staple treats. Whether you are baking alone or with friends, the sweet smells that fill your kitchen are reason enough to budget the two hours it may take to prepare and bake your sweet treats. As Friends-Giving nears, you will be the star of the meal as you dazzle your friends with your pie-baking skills.

Get Spooky

For all you thrill seekers, fall is your season to thrive. ‘Tis the season to get spooky and as we near Halloween, there are tons of haunted houses and trails to visit. Just south of campus, visit Horror in the Dark at Olin Park, a local haunted house. Or, if you are up for a drive and in the mood for some realistic zombies, make your way to Wisconsin Scaryland in Waunakee. Wisconsin Scaryland is a live-actor haunt, truly meant to make you scream. It is not for the faint of heart. For the rest of us, a scary movie streamed at the Marquee at Union South may be the perfect balance of thrill instead. The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974), Shaun of the Dead (2004) and The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) all play throughout the month of October.

Top reasons you should travel solo

Top Reasons To

While traveling abroad in a group has its advantages – safety, someone to take photos for you and it helps your parents to relax a bit – traveling alone can be one of the best decisions you can make. Here are the top seven reasons to travel abroad alone.

1. You can do what you want to do

When traveling alone, it’s completely up to you to make your agenda for the day. Wake up early to head out to explore or take a morning to sleep in, it’s up to you. Rather than collaborating with friends to determine a plan, all the decision making is in your hands. Not only that, but if you don’t want to spend money on an excursion your friend wanted to go on, you don’t have to!

2. You will meet so many new people

It’s a misconception that if you travel alone, you will always be on your own. When traveling with a big group, it would be unusual that you would go off on your own and end up meeting new people. Traveling alone forces you to go out of your comfort zone and talk to people you normally would have no reason to.

3. You can wander aimlessly

Sometimes, it’s fun to just go out in a new city and walk, taking in the sights with no set destination in mind. Traveling alone allows you to truly connect with the city and take your time while doing so. Wandering in to quaint little stores or inviting coffee shops, there are limitless possibilities when wandering alone in a new city.

4. Only one spot left? No problem

Whether it’s the last bed in a hostel, the last spot on the excursion you wanted to go on, or the last seat on a train, bus or plane, you can say yes and take it. There’s absolutely nothing, or anyone, holding you back from doing so.

5. Independence is the best

There is absolutely no more freeing feeling than hopping on a train and traveling to a new city alone. If you’ve been looking for independence and autonomy, traveling alone is the single-best way to feel free and independent.

6. You can eat when and where you want to.

Whether you’re a picky eater or adventurous eater, traveling alone is the best decision you can make. If you prefer to play it safe and stick to pizza and pasta or if you are all about trying the most out-there local cuisine that you can find, that decision is completely up to you when traveling solo.

7. Quality photography, of you!

Traveling alone does not mean that all your photos will consist of selfies. Instead, you’re forced to talk to strangers and ask if they can take a photo for you. Pro-tip: scope out a fellow sightseer with a fancy camera as they will most likely take a quality photo for you.

Get your sweat on, sans the SERF

PLAY TO WIN PLAY TO BE THE BEST JUST DO IT

Nearly a month has passed since the University’s beloved SERF closed its doors and said farewell until 2020. Gone are the beloved basketball courts, cardio room and pool that served as the central workout facility for the Southeast community.

Since the SERF officially closed on August 18, many students have been at a loss as to where to go to get their workouts in. Despite the closing of the SERF, there are plenty of other options both on and near campus to get your sweat on.

Ogg Hall Fitness Center

To help fill the gap that the SERF left in the Southeast community, Rec Sports transformed the main lounge of Ogg Hall into the Ogg Hall Fitness Center. Complete with a variety of cardio machines, free weights and weight machines, the newest fitness center accommodates a variety of workouts. Doors to Ogg Hall are open during the Fitness Center hours, but be aware that the Fitness Center closes on Badger Football home game days.

The Natatorium

The Nat is one of the busiest workout facilities on campus due to the closing of the SERF. Whether you’re looking to play basketball or badminton, hit the cardio or weight rooms, or go for a swim in the eight-lane pool, it is all possible at the Nat. The Nat also now serves as the primary facility for Group Fitness classes.

The Shell

Officially known as the Camp Randall Sports Center, the Shell is a good option for those living in the Southeast neighborhood who are not looking to make the cross-campus trek to the Nat. The Shell offers various places to work out, including four basketball courts, an indoor track, weight lifting machines and a few cardio machines. If you’re looking for a “chiller” workout, look no further. The Shell also boasts an ice rink and skates are available to rent. Like the Ogg Hall Fitness Center, the Shell closes its doors on Badger Football home game days.

The Nielsen Tennis Stadium

A well-kept Rec Sports secret, the Nielsen Tennis Stadium is located just past the Nat and serves all your tennis and squash needs. The facility has both indoor and outdoor tennis courts, making it easy to play year-round. The 80 bus stops a short walk away from the facility, so there really is no excuse not to venture out to play a match.

The Near West Fields

The opening of the Near West Fields marked the completion of the first project for the Rec Sports Master Plan—a plan for new recreational facilities on campus for the next 50 years. Synthetic turf covers nearly seven acres of land that is usable for flag football, soccer, lacrosse, rugby, baseball and softball games.

Anytime Fitness

Located above Walgreens on East Campus Mall, Anytime Fitness is a great option if you’re looking for a place to get in a cardio or lifting workout at any time of the day. The space has cardio machines, free weights and weight machines. To see if Anytime Fitness is the right fit for you, apply for a free, seven day pass online.

Kamps Fitness

Look no further for a HIIT (high-intensity interval training) workout that will kick you into shape. Located below the Hub, Kamps Fitness offers a variety of group fitness classes ranging from upper and lower body to core and arms. And, if you need more incentive to get your sweat on, Bachelorette favorite Peter Kraus serves as one of the seven trainers at Kamps Fitness.

Southwest Commuter and Lakeshore Paths

Run, walk or bike on either of the two paths that wind their way through campus. The Lakeshore Path is a great option if you’re looking for a scenic jog along the lake. Meanwhile, the Southwest Commuter Path stretches well beyond the confines of campus. If you don’t own a bike, rent one from one of the Madison BCycle stations scattered throughout campus.

Inner Fire Yoga

Slow things down, while getting a great workout at Inner Fire Yoga. Whether you are a yoga novice or pro, Inner Fire Yoga offers a variety of classes — including hot yoga. Your first class is free, so if you’re not sure if yoga is for you, test out a class at Inner Fire.

Badgers, Find Your Balance

Badgers, Find your balance

Its the start of another school year and after nine months, I’m officially back on campus at UW-Madison. Needless to say, the school work-load will be a bit of adjustment after spending four months abroad, but I’m excited for all that the semester will bring.

Apart from diving right back into school, I’m also jumping back into writing—this time for The Daily Cardinal, a school newspaper on campus that I have been involved in for the last two years. In the past, I have only done social media work for the Cardinal, so I am excited to take on writing for them this year.

My first piece focuses on the stressors that the first few weeks of college bring and how finding balance between school and extracurriculars can be difficult, but is not impossible. You can also find the original article published on the Daily Cardinal’s website here.


Badgers, Find Your Balance

September brings the start of a new school year and a clean slate for every student—the chance for reinvention.

As a freshman, the first year away at college can be overwhelming. After your parents leave you on move-in day, you’re on your own. No is one there to make decisions for you, instead, it’s all on you. House Fellows may encourage you to engage with the students on your floor and attend the Student Organization Fair, while professors point you towards the library. Ultimately, however, whether or not you participate in any of these activities is entirely up to you.

On the other hand, as a returning student, the new school year brings change and opportunity. The chance to try a new club or take on the leadership role you weren’t qualified for the year before. If another school year has passed you by without achieving your goals—now is the time to tackle what didn’t fit into your schedule before.

Whether you are a freshman or a returner, you attend countless welcome meetings, sit through various orientations and attend try-outs. Within the first few weeks of September, you’ve tried just about everything, switched classes multiple times and are running on an average of five and a half hours of sleep per night. Time to reevaluate your commitments and make some big decisions.

It’s easy to forget the real reason every student is on campus—to earn a degree and eventually graduate. Balancing school with extracurricular commitments and seeing your friends every once in awhile is like a puzzle. All the pieces will fall into place eventually, but it may take some time and hard work to get there.

In the first few weeks of school, it is important to take a step back and see the bigger picture. College is about doing what makes you happy. If juggling two jobs, a student org, intramurals and school is stressing you out, determine what you don’t need and let it go. There is always next semester to pick it up again.

So say yes to something new, but don’t be afraid to turn people and opportunities down if something doesn’t feel right. Most importantly, amid all the madness that is college, make time for yourself. Find the gap in your schedule for a quick nap or a trip to the gym. Take a night to hang out with your friends. You’ll be quick to find that you aren’t the only one feeling overloaded.

College is overwhelming, especially when everything is thrown at you at the start of September. Finding balance can be difficult, but is not impossible. It’s all about the choices you make.

When the Jet-lag Hits & Reverse Culture-Shock

Just over a week ago, I woke up for the last time in Kensington, London. It was the last time I woke up on my terrible bed with the springs sticking out of it. The last time I walked out the doors of Room E in Flat 17 of Manson Place.

I dragged my two 47 pound suitcases, my 26 pound backpack and my relatively light duffel bag down the six flights of stairs to the street. Then I was off to South Kensington station to take my last ride on the tube via the Piccadilly line to Heathrow Terminal 5 and board a flight to Chicago.

Most of the tube stations don’t have elevators and instead have stairs and escalators to get from the street level down to the trains. South Kensington Station is no different. I somehow managed to get both suitcases, my backpack and my duffel bag down the many stairs and onto the tube. I was on my way home!

I had an eight hour flight from London Heathrow to Chicago O’Hare Airport and was stuck in the middle seat. The joys.

 


 

Fast forward 10 days and I am still struggling to readjust to life at home. I never imagined it would have been as difficult for me as it has been. Between my struggle to get back on U.S. time (I continue to wake up at 4 a.m. no matter how hard I try to stay asleep), the various visits to the chiropractor due to the effects left on my body because of my heavy suitcases (“every chiropractor’s worst nightmare” as I was told), the tube stairs and stress, and the mess that is my room after dropping four months of my life on its floor, adjusting back to life at home has not been easy.

Prior to leaving for London, I had read that both transitioning to a new place when studying abroad and then transitioning when coming home can be difficult. The transition for me from home to London was most definitely not easy. I missed my family, friends, familiar foods and stores, as well as the simple things in life such as my bed. For some reason, I believed that it would be a simple transition when coming home. Why I thought I wouldn’t be affected this time, I do not know.

Many call this transition home from being abroad for a while “reverse culture shock” and its something I really didn’t think I would experience. My home is my home, something I’ve known for 20 years. How could it ever be difficult to come back to something I know so well? But, the last four months I spent away from the places, people and culture I knew, and London slowly became a place I allowed myself to call home. I didn’t realize that doing so would make coming home so difficult.

Every day, I still wake up thinking I’ll walk outside, make the short stroll to South Ken Station, and catch the District Line to explore some new place in London. Instead, I’ve traded in my Oyster Card for a set of car keys, the six flights of stairs up to my flat for a treadmill work-out and my raincoat for — oh wait, no, I’ve still been putting my raincoat to good use with all the rainy weather Wisconsin has been having.

One of the biggest things that I have had to adjust to, is how much free time I now have. In London, it was rare that I would have an hour to myself to watch a show on Netflix, take a nap or message friends. Since being home, I suddenly have too much free time than I know what to do with. AKA, I’ve already caught up on this season’s new episodes of Scandal and BOY ARE THEY GOOD. What I haven’t done, is finish unpacking or putting away all of my things from the last four months. I’ll get to it eventually, I swear.

I know that eventually, things will get back to normal, its only a matter of time. It will be easier when the rest of my friends are home from college, I start my summer internship and job and am busy again. Until then, I’m off to finish Gilmore Girls and run some more miles on the treadmill!

Cheers London, and thank you for an amazing four months!

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Playing Tour Guide, Stonehenge & Bath

Its been just over a week since I last wrote a blog post, but so much has happened in that span of time! With only eight full days left in London, everything seems to be going at lighting speed around here. Let me catch you up.

First off, my family came to visit last week! I picked them up from Heathrow on Friday morning and threw them right into the mix as we took the tube into the center of London. They brought four suitcases with them, but we were able to “easily” manage lugging them up the tube stairs! (Really, we did!)

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With them here, I was back in tour-guide mode. Soon after dropping their bags at the hotel, we headed outside (literally out the back door as the hotel was on the London Eye Pier) to the London Eye! Luckily, we had pre-booked tickets and the line was pretty short so we were on the Eye in no time!

While the London Eye is definitely a really cool experience to take advantage of while in London, I’ve learned its not the only place to get great views of the city. For much less, or for free, you can visit other locations in London to get a sky high view. Two of my favorite vantage points include the top floor of the Switch House at the Tate Modern and the Sky Garden. Both are free to the public and great alternatives to the London Eye. If you are interested in going to the Sky Garden though, be sure to keep checking their website up to two weeks in advance in order to reserve spots.

After the London Eye, we walked around the South Bank for a while and then made our way over to Covent Garden. There, we went to a Three Phone store to get SIM cards for my mom and brother. For only 20 pounds, they were able to get a SIM card with 12 gigabytes of data on it to use for their week here. Later in the week, my family was leaving to travel to Ireland where their phone would also be usable. If you are staying in London for longer than a week or will be traveling in surrounding cities, getting an international SIM card is a great option rather than paying the outrageous data packages offered in the states for international travel.

On Saturday, I took my family on one of my favorite walking trips to see my favorite part of London! We took the tube from Westminster to Ladbroke Grove in Notting Hill. We started at the end of Portobello Road Market (my absolute favorite market London has to offer), and made our way all the way down until we reached Notting Hill High Street. From there we walked to the north entrance to Holland Park, a new favorite park of mine. In Holland Park, you can find the Kyoto Gardens, a Japanese garden complete with koi fish and peacocks! What more could you ask for?

We then made a pit stop at the Design Museum on Kensington High Street. This is my favorite museum in all of London as it focuses on both old and modern design of all types including furniture, electronics and logos just to name a few topics. The stop at the Design Museum was also a good break from all the walking we had already done.

From there, we walked to Hyde Park and visited Kensington Palace and the Kensington Gardens which were in full bloom. Everyone was getting hungry, so we made our way to Nando’s in South Ken for lunch!

Post lunch, we made a stop at Harrod’s, the worlds largest and most expensive department store, for my dad. It was quite the interesting place, with a large food court (fancy!), and tons of boutique stores inside (fancy! think Dolce Gabbana and Versace). Quite the day.

On Sunday morning, we got up early to take a train from Waterloo Station to Windsor. We were visiting one of Her Majesty the Queen’s royal residence’s, Windsor Castle. We were able to get there right as they began letting people in and didn’t have to wait in line for long. We toured the grounds, which were beautiful, and then went inside the State Apartments. The coolest part about the visit was that the Queen was actually there at the same time as we were! She spends Easter at Windsor Castle every year, so it was really cool to see her “standard,” aka her flag, outside signaling she was there!

On Tuesday after class, I took my family to Victoria Train Station where they took the Gatwick Express to the airport. They were off for Ireland for the next few days! It was so great to finally see them after being apart for almost four months! Only a week till I see them again, this time at home!

Today (Friday), I took a day trip to both Stonehenge and Bath with two friends from the flat across from mine. Abby, Brooke and I enjoyed having a photo shoot in front of the infamous rocks. They were big. Apart from that, there wasn’t much to Stonehenge apart from the beautiful rolling green and yellow hills. SO PRETTY. The English countryside is stunning in the spring!

We then boarded our bus again and traveled to the Roman City of Bath. Because it was a Bank Holiday, Bath was incredibly crowded. We had about three and a half hours in the city, but an hour and a half was devoted to touring the ancient Roman Baths. The Baths were really cool, but also really gross. The water was a bright green color and you could see filth floating around in it. We were specifically told not to touch the water as you were highly likely to get sick if you did. It was amazing how many people you could see ignoring these simple instructions and touching the hot, germ-infested, bath water. Why people, why?

As I write this post, I’m currently waiting for my laundry to be done so I can pack for my final trip abroad. Tomorrow I leave bright and early for Glasgow, Scotland! I’m taking the train and can’t wait to see Scotland! Apart from that, I also can’t wait to see Ed (again)! Until then!

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Because I had to include this photo.

Let’s go to the Beach, Beach

Last Saturday, all of the UW-Madison students went on a trip I had been looking forward to since the beginning of the semester: Brighton.

Brighton is directly south of London and is an English seaside resort town. It is also known for its nightlife, shopping and festivals. We took a coach bus from London to Brighton and got there in about an hour and fifteen minutes. The bus dropped us right in front of the PEBBLE beach and Brighton Pier. From there, our tour guide took us on an hour-long walking tour of Brighton.

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On the walking tour, we mainly walked through the shopping and restaurant district in the main part of downtown Brighton. There were tons of people out shopping as it was a Saturday morning. There were the classic chain stores like Gap and H&M, but the smaller, more local shops outnumbered these big box stores. Apart from these local stores, there are also many local restaurants in Brighton. Many of these restaurants happen to be vegan and vegetarian, not something that is quite as common in London.

After walking through the shopping district, we made a stop at the Royal Pavilion, also known as the Brighton Pavilion. It was built as a seaside retreat for George, Prince of Wales, in 1811. This building looks as though it should be placed somewhere in India, rather than on the English seaside coast. I guess it just adds to the quirks of Brighton.

We were then free to explore on our own until we had to meet the bus to go back to London at 4 p.m. We had spent most of our time further inland where the shops were, and headed directly for the beach and water.

Normally, I am not a fan of resort towns and beaches. I hate beaches. Brighton is different though. It doesn’t have a normal beach, it has a pebble beach. Its fantastic.

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After lunch, I spent a lot of time on the beach taking photos with a few friends (probably the most time I have ever spent on a beach if I’m being honest). We had so much fun throwing pebbles around and a few people almost got caught by some of the waves coming in.

Post photo shoot, we headed up the stairs to walk along Brighton Pier. The pier is totally commercialized for tourists as it boasts stands selling 99 Flake ice cream cones (usually for 2.50 instead of 99 p…typical), carnival games and rides. The rides are at the end of the pier where there are typical rides similar to the Tilt-A-Whirl and Scrambler, but there are even two small-sized roller coasters. Its quite an interesting set-up.

We still had a few hours left and were yet to find the famous colorful beach huts of Brighton. From the pier, we weren’t able to see any sign of them, so we ended up asking a girl working one of the stands which direction we needed to walk in to find the beach huts. The beach huts are west of Brighton Pier, so we walked along the pavement near the beach. This path is lined with water-front restaurants, bars and shops. Being a Saturday, it was incredibly packed but began to thin out the further we got from Brighton Pier.

Eventually, after about a 25 minute walk from Brighton Pier, we spotted the beach huts. These beach huts are used by locals in the summer to keep food in, change clothes and just hang out in. They are pretty small but do the trick. It was a beautiful day out, and while still early spring, there were a few owners sitting inside reading a newspaper in their beach hut with the doors open. Quite cute.

The colorful beach huts again called for an impromptu photo shoot.

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It was then time to head back so we could catch the bus home. Along the way, we stopped to get a 99 Flake ice cream (for two pounds), and made it back with plenty of time to spare. If I had more time here in the UK, I would definitely make another trip down to Brighton to explore for a longer period of time. It is such a cool city and we barely scratched the surface of what it has to offer as we had a limited six hours there. Until next time!